High-Road Government

A Contracting Policy that Helps Workers, Taxpayers and Businesses

New high-road federal contracting guidelines would help raise job standards, reward companies that follow the law, and prevent taxpayer waste, write CAP Action's David Madland and Karla Walter.

The way that the government chooses contractors may seem like an arcane and unimportant topic, but President Obama can actually provide a big win for workers, taxpayers, law-abiding companies, and the environment by adopting a high-road contracting policy.

The federal government contracts out everything from janitorial services to the design and manufacture of sophisticated weapons systems, and spends more than $500 billion per year employing a massive contracting workforce. Federal contracting has expanded rapidly in the last decade so that 43 percent of all employees who do the government’s work are now employed by private businesses.

A high-road contracting policy would help raise job standards, ensure that only law-abiding companies receive government contracts, improve the quality of services provided to the government, and prevent waste of taxpayer dollars. It does this by encouraging federal agencies to contract with companies that invest in their workers and not doing business with companies that significantly or persistently violate environmental, workplace, and other laws.

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David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project

Karla Walter

Senior Fellow, Inclusive Economy